The tomatoes have arrived and everything about them is amazing. They’re easy to harvest. They’re beautiful. They’re undamaged. They’re abundant. They are perfect.
In our seven seasons of farming, we haven’t had many of what we would consider a “good” tomato year. A lot of the disappointment had to do with our lack of growing experience and the varieties we were choosing, but with increasingly humid and wet summers, the tomatoes always seemed riddled with disease and pests before they even began to ripen.
The last couple years in particular have brought disappointing first harvests that literally left us in tears. I remember picking 10-20 beautiful pounds per row into a crate and tossing another 80 pounds of damaged fruits onto the ground. We began to wonder if a “good” tomato year was really possible. We began to wonder if a “good” tomato year at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm was just an urban legend we’d continue to chase into our 40’s.
Then this past July finished hot and dry– ideal conditions for our tomato crop. Combine that with another couple years of experience under our belt, better soil management, more timely trellising, and greater intention in the time and location of our four plantings, and I think we finally have a great tomato year ahead of us. And I finally get what all the fuss is about. A good tomato year is an experience worth chasing.
Heading out to the field with six crates on the first week of ripening and having to drive back up to the pack shed because they filled up within 30 minutes feels exactly how I always dreamed August could feel– full and abundant and generous and delicious. We can share our fruits more freely because we know how many are yet to come.
So, without further ado, a very simple salad in celebration of everything coming ripe in the fields. There are tomatoes, of course, but they aren’t the focal point because baby we are just getting started.
SIMPLEST SUMMER ABUNDANCE SALAD
Serves 1-4 (depending how hungry you are and whether this is a meal or a side dish)
Takes 20 minutes
4 ears corn
1 Walla Walla onion (or other sweet fresh onion), halved and sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice or champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove top.
- Meanwhile, cut up your cucumbers by peeling the skin with a vegetable peeler into stripes so the skin is removed in some places and remains in others. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, remove seeds with a spoon and then slice thinly. Place in a large bowl.
- Place corn in boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove with tongs and rinse with cold water. Remove kernels from the ears with a knife. Add to cucumber bowl along with onion and cherry tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve at room temperature.